How do CBD and caffeine work together?

It’s widely known that CBD causes a calming effect, whilst caffeine produces alertness and an increase in energy levels.

To understand how these two compounds interact with the body when consumed together, we need to look at how each one works individually.


Caffeine has two key actions physiologically:

  1. Blocks the action of Adenosine in the brain
  2. Stimulates the release of Adrenaline and Noradrenaline by the adrenal glands.

During the day, the body naturally produces energy by breaking the down ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) and produces a bi-product, Adenosine.

This is useful because the higher the amount of Adenosine in the brain, the more tired and sleepy you feel.

As we create energy from this process throughout the day, the concentration of Adenosine increases and starts binding to Adenosine receptors in the brain, which triggers a chemical reaction that induces natural tiredness.

At the end of the day, or after enough Adenosine has bound to receptors, then sleep follows, which allows the body to rest and recuperate and build up its energy stores again.

Caffeine blocks the Adenosine receptors however does not trigger the same chemical reactions that induce tiredness and sleep. By acting in this way, it prevents the brain from feeling tired and giving a sense of alertness. After 2-4 hours the caffeine is broken down and a flood of adenosine binds to the receptors, creating the over-tired ‘come-down’ feeling.

At the same time, and by a mechanism that is not yet fully understood, the Adrenal glands produce an increased level of Adrenaline and Noradrenaline which increases energy levels and alertness (fight or flight chemicals).


Cannabidiol (CBD) also acts on the Adenosine receptors by increasing their sensitivity, essentially allowing utilisation of more Adenosine than usual.

This counter acts the action of caffeine on the adenosine receptors however does not prevent it from stimulating the release of Adrenaline and Noradrenaline, which increases energy levels and alertness.

This is the reason why CBD can counteract the ‘come-down’ effect of caffeine experienced about 4-6 hours after consumption.